Breathe, Goodbye, Exhale, Tomorrow

Song of the Moment: Rascal Flatts “Bless the Broken Road”

Somehow, no matter what the end looks like with us, it seems to be another beginning…

I keep up this picture of us, at this completely transitional time, when we learned about the other person, the truth of the other person, when we haphazardly fell in love. Maybe I always knew it would be fleeting. Maybe your intense need to believe that we would figure it out held us to each other.  Maybe passion disguised the mistakes, the flaws, the inherent thing about it that was always going to be a little bit uncomfortable and wrong.

I look at this photo, and I focus on your smile.  I see only my love.  We were broken before we were whole, fell into each other because of love, not despite all of the other bullshit. I leaned over, in that photograph choreographed by some event photographer, and it captured this moment when we became an “us.”  It didn’t last long, but I keep the photo, display it proudly, because the moment is so pure. Love was so very present, even if fleeting. Even if but for a tiny moment in the infinity of time.

I keep the photo, because I know I did the right thing when I loved you. I don’t keep thinking about all of the ways you failed me.  I don’t focus on the ending filled with harsh disappointments and betrayals and sadness, even though every person I know imagined the outcome would be exactly as it happened. A small failure, one after another. You always loved freedom more than you loved me.  I always loved you more than I could understand. I still don’t think you will comprehend how pure the love I have is, so entrenched in desire and comfort and affection that it can be nothing but true. I tried to leave, and my heart stayed in one place: it stayed in you.

This photograph is a reminder, that when one girl (me) follows her heart, her heart is not wrong, even if everything else falls down. I love you, I loved you, I will love you, even if that love means I must give you the freedom you crave and deserve. I am reminded, by that smile on your face, and the incredible memories of a decade, that you were meant for me and I was yours…just not forever.

From here forward, I will take comfort in knowing, we were right about us when everyone else believed we were wrong, when I thought I was mistaken, when you had faith that a hope and prayer could recover a fallen love. Maybe if we had both done it ever so slightly differently…

I am grateful, broken, blessed, loved, loving, wanton, cherishing, lost.  And yet, I am not angry, not wounded. There is no fault, my love, in goodbye this time. There is only tomorrow, and some future day, in the infinity of time, when we will both know… we were right about us. Even if only for a breath.

I will keep that photo, stare at your face, inhale that smile, not to be trapped in that one moment, but to take power in it. It was right, and I was right to come to you, to have you, and to love you, my one true love. The ending… will never matter as much as what I know to be true. A picture and a thousand words. A thousand times… I love you.

ELEVATORS, Part IV

On the day of my father’s death four years ago, I wrote this about a man I loved, only a handful of hours before I received news that my father had died.  I loved this man, but, simultaneously, I found I hated the relationship I was in.  Today, I still love this man… and somehow, somewhere, forgot that the relationship is volatile at best, and vicious at worst…  He still loves me, which is not consolation, it IS a prize.  I could leave, but would be empty.  I must stay, obliged to stay, though he feels no obligation to me.

Non-attachment… it is a constant theme in Buddhism, and though I am not Buddhist, it is a concept I try to incorporate everyday.  Obligation is smothering. Love… is love.

I re-post these old words to remind myself, that on that day, when I was told my father died, what pounded through my chest about this man was not all of the ways he failed me, not all of the disappointments, and waiting, and wondering, and insecurity, but love.  My knowledge that my loving him gave me more joy than sorrow, and that despite his lack of worldliness, and unfortunate immaturity about many things, he is an incredible old soul and his love of me is simple and sincere.

I chose the elevator ride with him, chose the ups and downs.  Some days, the ride is without interruption. Some days, other people get on, and distract us from each other. Some days, the elevator breaks completely, and one or both of us leave the confines of the tiny space to find another way to get to where we need to be at that exact moment. And yet, despite this, or maybe because of this, we find ourselves back to where we must be, together. I am still consumed by love, I let it devour me and nurture me.

I choose.  I can push the buttons, I can take the stairs.

I choose him.

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Some days, I get on an elevator, and I forget to press the button.  The doors close, but I stand there, inert, waiting. I wait, and nothing happens.  Sometimes, a person from the outside will press a different button, and the tiny box-carriage will rise or fall and I don’t realize where I’m going until I arrive at someone else’s destination.

I fell in love with a man I met outside an elevator. For the entire ride, I felt this sense of strange anticipation, as if something powerful was about to envelop me, conquer me, maybe consume me alive.

He did.

In the world of odd couples, there is not a worse possible match.  There is no man, that on paper, could be any more wrong. But I fell in love slowly, cautiously, stupidly. I protected myself for as long as possible, steeled against love at first sight, tried with mighty force to throw myself in the path of other, more appropriately designed men.  But the force of love, of passion, of need for this particular man was more than I could stand.  Eventually, it was as all love is for me… entrancing and devouring.

I don’t believe we choose love; love chooses us.  This love chose me because I was weak and unable to be immune to the power of someone so raw and ill-designed, I was raptured by something outside my control.

But rapture ends when reality creeps in.  I can no longer ignore the actions of someone who forgets me too often, who can promise me he will regrow my heart only to eat it whole…

Someone else pressed the button on the elevator. It’s time for me to get off.